Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on two marriage equality laws: the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8. Decisions will not be released for several weeks, but the cases show the direction our country is heading.
The White House filed amicus briefs supporting marriage equality, and President Obama is the first sitting president to support the cause. In addition, Ted Olson, a conservative legal icon, was the principal attorney that argued against the marriage equality ban in California.
Meanwhile, public opinion on the issue has changed rapidly since California passed Proposition 8. Support for marriage equality is at a high. In the 18 to 32 age bracket, it is now 70 percent — up from 51 percent 10 years ago. Nine states now allow same-sex couples to marry, and several others have pending measures. Of Democrats in the Senate, only six have not declared support for marriage equality. The momentum is heading in one direction, and the issue strikes at the core debates over civil rights that have defined our nation’s history.
Marriage equality will happen in the United States, and sooner rather than later. Throughout the centuries, we have fought to expand rights for people regardless of the color of their skin, which God they pray to or their gender, and now we must fight to include people regardless of who they love as well. This is the civil rights issue of our time.
Whether the Supreme Court stands on the right side of history or whether it stands in its way is a decision that we eagerly await. If the court declines to take up this historic moment, it risks being left on the sidelines as Americans do what we have done for centuries: utilize democratic means to create a more inclusive society and hence a more perfect union.